Racehorse fatalities down by more than a third since 2009

Racehorse fatalities down by more than a third since 2009
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 4:35 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - After some difficult years for the thoroughbred racing industry, new data indicates that racehorse fatalities have decreased by over a third since 2009.

These numbers were voluntarily reported to the Equine Injury Database, but another interesting point we found is that fatal injuries have reached their lowest since those statistics have been kept.

Dr. Stuart Brown has been an equine veterinarian for over three decades and is in charge of equine safety at Keeneland. In 2019 their course saw nine fatalities, five of them on dirt. Last year, the track had one fatality to report over the 34 race day period.

“Reaching the standards we hope to, to drive those numbers to zero. Working really, really hard to share that information, you see that in some of the EID data, in participating tracks that share this information versus ones that don’t,” said Dr. Brown.

Dr. Brown says it’s been a collaborative effort between vets, track maintenance and working with other partners and organizations to improve the quality of care for the animal athletes.

“Our track maintenance team works extremely hard and works with the group that’s out of the University of Kentucky now that does surface testing for us to make sure that we’re constantly testing the surface to make sure it maintains that moisture content and consistency,” said Dr. Brown.

Marty Irby is the executive director at Animal Wellness Action and has been fighting for their rights for years. He says he’s pleased with the recent numbers released and is glad to see the industry begin to adopt safer standards and practices.

“We’re very, very encouraged,” Irby said. “I think horse racing really has a bright future ahead of it if they maintain the course, if they stay on the right track and if they continue to put the welfare and health of the horse first.”

Santa Anita, a track in California, saw 25 fatalities in 2016 over 126 race days. In 2022, they recorded four fatalities across 94 race days, the lowest number recorded in the last 13 years.